Monday late afternoon, sunny, 71 degrees.
I had started a different post today, but I cannot finish it. I am bereft, and you will think me silly and melodramatic. I do not care.
It’s been a while since I last held a living thing in my arms or my hands as it died. The last time was with my fluffy boy Shakes, several years ago. Until today. I’ve been sitting outside for most of the afternoon, writing on an off, listening to the birds, swatting at the things that makes me itch, watching Sassy beg for food, and listening to the goats and the dogs. For most of this time, Ash has been asleep on the table before me while I had the laptop on the arm of the chair. And then, without warning, he leapt from the table and raced across the yard.
I tend to forget just how fast he can be, tend to forget that cats are hunters, no many how many times they are admonished, and before I could lift myself from this stupidly low chair, he had caught a bird, a baby bird. All of the dogs immediately surrounded him, but not too closelyf, and he held on. But as I neared him, Ash dropped the body into my hand. It was a baby, a younr Eastern Bluebird, and at first I thought that it was just stunned and that I could replace it in the tree, and then I noticed its neck. In mere seconds, Ash had broken its neck, and as I cradled the body, the beak opened and closed slowly a few times. The one eye that I could see slowly lowered, but not completely, so that as I walked across the front yard, the sun hit the eye, and for just a moment, I thought that perhaps it was in fact not yet dead.
But I knew better.
You will think me foolish to care so much about a baby bird. You might have the opinion that I have more important things to worry about. You might think many things. I do not care.
This is not a new reaction for me. Death, regardless of how large or how small, crushes me, wounds my heart, leaves me hollow. I do not like to face it, even when it is nameless.
How do others move through life without seemingly being affected by such things? I’ve often wondered about this. And now I am surrounded by people for whom death is as commonplace as life, people who often kill their food, and I understand that it is a way of life, just as I understand that cats offer the bodies of small creatures to their humans as tokens of affection. None of this means that I have to be okay with it.
When one of my sons’ pets died, whether it was a tree frog or a mouse, we always buried it in a small box in the backyard, or at least, Corey always buried them. He buried, and I consoled. But there is no one around to console me for the baby bird that I have placed in a small box, and I don’t know that there should be. Perhaps this is more something that I should face alone, remind that scientific part of my brain of Darwinism and the concept of the fittest surviving.
But that doesn’t mean that I have to like it.
And I don’t.
So I’ll allow myself to feel bereft, to feel a sense of loss that something so beautiful is gone, even as I listen to the clamor of the other birds who are agitated because they know that today the predator won. Predators come in all sizes and shapes—I am reminded of this fact, not that it is easy to forget such a thing.
So go ahead and think me foolish.
I do not care.